Rebels Take Tucker Behind Torrid Stretch from Penner
Oct. 1, 2011
Albuquerque, N.M. --- Kyle Penner was quietly stringing together par after par in his final round of the William H. Tucker Invitational, trying to get hot. Boy did he ever get hot. Penner birdied five consecutive holes, and six of nine, pacing the UNLV Rebels with a 5-under 67 as UNLV held off a strong challenge from the New Mexico Lobos to win the Tucker Invitational by four strokes.
BYU's Zachary Blair shot a 2-under 70 in the final round to hold off UNM's James Erkenbeck for individual medalist honors. Blair shot a 7-under 209 for the tournament, four shots better than Erkenbeck, who shot a 213, good for 3-under. UNLV's Derek Ernst and North Texas' Carlos Ortiz were the only other golfers to finish under par at -1 215.
Penner was sitting at 6-over for the entire tournament approaching his final 11 holes when he basically went on an epic birdie streak. It started with a birdie on the hardest par-3 on the course, the 222-yard 11th. He then drained birdie putts on 12 and 13, and then took advantage of the relatively easy par 5 14th for his fourth straight birdie. He capped the run with a birdie on 15, and then added one more, on the the 1st hole (his 16th), to get back to even for the tournament.
He needed all of those as New Mexico, down by nine strokes at one point, rallied to whittle the lead down to four at the end. John Catlin, UNM's number one golfer, nearly got UNM back in the hunt at the end, with an eagle on the par-5 first hole (his 17th), and a birdie on his final hole, putting him even on the day, and three-over for the tournament.
Ercknbeck started out slow, as he was three-over through eight, and was still at that same number through 13 before birdies on 14 and 16 put him back in the individual hunt, and pushed UNM closer to UNLV.
The battle between the two Mountain West powers was to be expected, and it didn't disappoint. UNLV entered the tournament ranked No. 11 by Golfstat.com, and UNM wasn't far behind at No. 15.
No one really threatened UNLV and New Mexico, as San Diego State was a distant third at +19, and Arizona and North Texas tied for fourth at +21. BYU was sixth, but had a great effort from medalist Zachary Blair. He carded four birdies, and suffered just one hiccup, a double-bogey six on the seventh hole, the hardest hole on the round as it yielded just seven birdies in 96 possible opportunities.
NOTES: UNLVs' Derek Ernst led all golfers with 41 pars ... BY's Blair has 14 birdies ... Erkenbeck took advantage of his course knowledge, playing the par fives in a tournament best 11-under ... There were just three eagles on the final day of the tournament, all on hole number 1 ... the golfers in the field got an early morning treat as nearly 200 hot air balloons were visible in the distance as the International Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta opened Saturday morning, including balloons shaped as a butterfly, a giant cow, and even Darth Vader.